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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions


Summer College Alum Establishes Non-Profit to Help College Students Pay for Textbooks

Summer College Alum Establishes Non-Profit to Help College Students Pay for Textbooks

Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions, June 1, 2009

While attending Cornell University Summer College, alum Dave Lanning, Jr. experienced college life first-hand. While meeting people from all corners of the globe, learning about different cultures, and creating memories to last a lifetime, Lanning discovered that many of his fellow students shared a common concern: college textbooks are expensive.

"I was surprised to find out that most financial aid and scholarships did not help students with buying textbooks," says Lanning. "After returning home, I was determined to find a way to help students who were having trouble paying for their books."

Lanning used his savings to establish Beans for Books Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to provide money to college students in the form of textbook grants. "Working in my parents' coffee shop for the past five years, I've noticed a connection between coffee drinkers and book lovers." Enlisting the help of his friends, Lanning's Beans for Books worked with coffee shops and businesses across southern New England gathering donations to fund the Beans for Books Textbook Grants.

In August 2008, Beans for Books opened up to online grant applications. In just thirty days, the organization received over 15,000 applications from all across the country. In September 2008, Beans for Books proudly gave out its first round of grants totaling over $10,000 to 19 college students.

Now, Beans for Books is looking toward the future. "We plan to expand the organization to college campuses across the country, so we can distribute more grants to more students each semester," Lanning says. "Currently, we are on track to double our awards for the coming spring semester."

Beans for Books has been featured on NBC News,,, several regional newspapers, and most recently on National Public Radio's Morning Edition program. The organization also received an ongoing grant from Google that will be used for online advertising to help more students find the help offered from Beans for Books.

"There's been a lot of hard work. I'm learning more about non-profits, fund-raising, and the world of philanthropy and finding ways to apply new ideas to the organization," Lanning says. "My ultimate vision is for Beans for Books to continue helping students for many generations to come."

See Dave's "Inside Summer College" page!